Monday, July 8, 2013

Book Review - The Favored Daughter, Fawzia Koofi

The Favored Daughter: One Woman’s Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future

Fawzia Koofi, Nadene Ghouri

Category: Nonfiction: Memoir: Middle East; Afghanistan

Synopsis: Koofi recounts her life during the Afghan civil war and during and after the rule of the Taliban.

Date finished: 13 June 2013

Rating: ***½

I’ve read an awful lot of books about Afghani and Iranian women’s lives and the horrific struggles therein. The Afghani women’s stories are by far the worst. Most Iranian women prior to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in their country had been well-educated and enjoyed more freedom and a more equal place in society. Most Afghani women, on the other hand, have always had the burden of crushing poverty. Family life, especially in the rural areas, was much more traditional, and conditions were harsh. To say the least. Access to medicine, roads, and modern conveniences was scarce. 

Having read so many books like this one, they’re beginning to blend. And sadly, the impact is beginning to lessen. The sheer fact that so many of these women’s stories exist, and so many facts and circumstances are the same among them, we now know (if we didn’t then) the horrors visited upon women in this part of the world.

The more I read these books, the more disheartened I become. Even if you can remove fundamentalist groups like the Taliban from power—in fact, abolish them altogether—you still have the challenges of traditionalism to face. Men are in charge of women, husbands in charge of wives, brothers in charge of sisters. Male law goes. Men beat women as a matter of course. Men deny medical care to their wives. A family mourns when a female child is born. Women are less apt to (and in some cases, not allowed to) be educated or join the workforce. This means a struggling economy has little hope of getting on its feet, as half of the available workforce is ineligible to work. Koofi maintains Afghanistan must be reformed from the inside out. No amount of well-meaning Western aid workers or foreign aid money, will change traditional views. Or the governmental corruption, for that matter. The men and women in this part of the world have to want change. They have to believe in hope through hard work. They have to know there’s something better and that they can have it. Do they?

Parliamentarian Koofi is one of the first women to serve in the post-Taliban Afghanistan government. She assumes she will someday be killed for daring to serve and daring to voice her opinions about the issues facing Afghanistan and the solutions to its problems. Each chapter begins with an honest and touching letter to her daughters—letters for them to have after her death.

In the midst of history being made, it’s easy to become impatient for change to come to fruition. Hopefully we will be able to look back on Afghanistan years from now and see the steps being taken now as giant leaps.

Would you recommend this to a friend?
I think so.

You might also enjoy:
Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez and Kristin Ohlson

P.S. This book contained so many grammatical and typographical errors that I got very frustrated. Hopefully these will be cleaned up by the second edition.

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